NOTE: This restaurant is now closed.
Laura had a picnic with students, so I was left to my own devices for the evening. I had dropped by the iPlace store at RiverPlace to further confuse my new computer search, when across the road I spotted Oysters on the West End. Since it was time for dinner, I decided to give it a try.
OOTWE is located in a two story building right across from RiverPlace. There is a dining area downstairs with nautical-themed decorations, more upstairs indoor dining and a bar, and a spacious outside dining area. Furniture included chrome and wood chairs and wooden tables throughout.
When I entered I was ushered upstairs. Apparently downstairs isn’t used unless it’s full. I took advantage of the nice weather and sat out on the deck.
Most of the clientele looked to be in the 30+ range, and most looked like they were young professionals. There were several at the bar, and a few seated out on the deck. More arrived over the course of my meal.
Given it’s name, one would expect seafood, and that’s reflected in the menu. There are a dozen different ways to get a dozen 0r (half-dozen) oysters. There are about as many appetizers, including creole mussels and little neck clams. There are quite a few seafood entree’s, a few dishes for the land lubber, and a selection of salads and sandwiches for lighter fare.
A dozen oysters is either $15 or $16 depending on preparation. Appetizers run from $8 – $12, and entree’s from $12 and up. Sandwiches tend to over slightly less than $10.
I started with a cup of the spicey gumbo, and that it was. The flavors were great, without being painful. For my entree I decided on the Build Your Own Boil, which sounds more like a medical condition than a meal. It’s supposed to be a lowcountry boil with corn, potatoes, sausage, and whatever other meat you want to add. The basic boil is $7, then you add the meat for varying prices. I selected the shrimp for $6.
While the gumbo was flavorful and good, the boil was something that needed lancing, or, in this case, looked like it had already been lanced. There was about a half-inch of water left in the bottom of the bowl. It looked like the spices had been dusted on afterward, rather than mixed in with the boil. As a result, the components were rather bland. I could drag the food through the dusting of spices, but that gave an inconsistent, sometimes too salty result. The cocktail sauce provided for the shrimp was only one step above plain ketchup. The result, while not terrible, was disappointing. The portions were generous, though.
I’ve found that places that focus on the bar/drink side of their business tend to let service slide. If folks are busy having drinks with friends, they don’t notice so much if the waiter doesn’t get around in a timely fashion. If you’re a lone person ordering dinner, this can be a problem. Service wasn’t really all that bad, and I’ve had much, much worse at some places in town. It just wasn’t as timely as I might have liked.
Oysters on the West End has a great location and party setting outside. The drinks are reasonably priced, but the food pushes the higher end of reasonableness. I’d be willing to come back and try some of the other other offerings. The gumbo certainly had flavor, so I’m sure some other dish might, too.